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Cowboys 2017 Draft Picks: Scouting Report On Fourth-Round Pick Ryan Switzer

A scouting report on the Cowboys fourth-round selection, North Carolina wide receiver Ryan Switzer.

North Carolina v Florida State Photo by Jeff Gammons/Getty Images

Just when you thought the Cowboys were sticking to a somewhat predictable script, they decided to throw a surprise in the mix and take a wide receiver. The Chicago Bears gave up an arm in a leg to move up to the number two spot to take North Carolina’s QB Mitch Trubisky and now the Cowboys have selected his favorite target, Ryan Switzer.

This comes as a surprise because Switzer looks like a carbon copy of Cole Beasley who is locked in as the team’s third down/slot receiver role on the team. But Switzer’s talent cannot be passed up on. He’s got excellent quickness and a perfectionist route runner. It seems like targets might be hard to come by in this Cowboys offense, but he should find a key role on special teams. This will give Lucky Whitehead some serious competition for that final wide receiver spot.

Over the last two seasons, the team has struggled getting production not only from the kick returning position, but also getting value from that last WR spot. Switzer solves both these issues as he can be a force in both roles. The Cowboys don’t have a lot they could improve on offense, but this is certainly one of them. Switzer’s shiftiness gives the Cowboys another weapon. He and Beasley could even be on the field at the same time. We just watched the New England Patriots win a Super Bowl with multiple slot guys out there on the field. This will put strain on the opposing defenses.

These shifty players are tough to cover and is a proven commodity in the NFL. Richard Johnson of SB Nation provides a nice comparison to Wes Welker.

We laugh about the white slot receiver cliche, but Switzer does have a lot of obvious correlations with Welker.

  • Welker’s one of two men in FBS history to have returned more punts for TDs than Switzer.
  • They both starred as college slot WRs who were deadly on punt returns.
  • They both caught 240-plus passes as four-year college contributors, with nearly the same stat lines (95-plus catches for about 1,100 yards) as seniors in spread offenses.
  • They’re within three quarters of an inch of each other, height-wise.

Switzer’s a little speedier, and Welker’s a little stockier, but they both had four-second times in the 20-yard shuttle, an excellent mark in a drill meant to measure agility and change of direction, crucial traits for slot receivers.

Here is the scouting report from Lance Zierlein of


High-volume target for UNC QB Mitch Trubisky. Reliable pass catcher with low career drop rate. Sudden feet to shake press defenders out of his release. Plays at his top speed and doesn't coast. Accelerates and separates on speed outs. Utilizes repeatable footwork in routes. Patterns are crisp. Comes out of breaks at sharp angles and snaps head around immediately to find the ball. Owns comeback routes by driving hard back to the throw. Shows traits of effective option-route specialist in short-yardage and red area. Able to defeat inside leverage technique and find his way back underneath. Had five punt-return touchdowns his freshman season and has seven for his career, with 19 career returns of more than 15 yards.


Short target with very limited catch radius. Struggles to haul throws behind him. Needs accurate quarterbacking to do his job. Doesn't have get-away speed and will have NFL cornerbacks sitting on all of his underneath work. Benefits from misdirection within UNC offense. Not a hands-catcher. Routes feature similar speed throughout and could benefit from change of speeds. Quick but not overly athletic. Struggled to find yards for himself in catch-and-run hitch tosses and wide receiver screens.

Here is the scouting report from

STRENGTHS: Possesses a compact, athletic frame with naturally low center of gravity due to a disproportionately long torso and short legs. Wins with elite footwork, including instant stop-start ability, a wicked jump cut to elude defenders in tight spaces as well as the burst to break into the open field. Accelerates fluidly and offers good (albeit not great) speed overall. Presents a difficult matchup for cornerbacks, creating separation as a route-runner because of his shiftiness and willingness to go across the middle. Shows no fear as a receiver or returner, rarely opting to signal for the fair catch despite incoming defenders. Willing to run into the teeth of the defense when he spots a seam. Generally catches the ball cleanly, showing soft hands to pull in passes outside of his frame. Locates the ball quickly and fights for it, competing even in jump ball situations in which he would appear overmatched. Shows enough arm strength and accuracy to offer trick play considerations. Respected by his teammates and the UNC coaching staff for his toughness, missing just two of 52 college games and accepting an invitation to the Senior Bowl.

WEAKNESSES: Comes with obvious size limitations. Lacks the height and arm length scouts would prefer at wide receiver. Quicker than fast, getting caught from behind a few times on tape. Has to do a better job of securing the ball, failing to wrap both arms around it, at times, when running through traffic. Could be limited in the types of routes and offense in which he will be effective against NFL-caliber athletes, struggling to generate separation when he is asked to run in a straight line for long.

Here are his measurables courtesy of mockdraftable.

Contrary to what people try to tell you, it’s better to be good than Lucky. What do you think about the Cowboys fourth-round selection?

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